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Sedition Charge Could Apply to Riot Violence

A Department of Justice memo sent to U.S. attorneys urges federal prosecutors to bring harsh penalties against rioters and even sedition charges could possibly apply, according to a report.

The Associated Press stated Thursday:

The sedition statute doesn’t require proof of a plot to overthrow the government, the memo read. It instead could be used when a defendant tries to oppose the government’s authority by force.

Attorney General William Barr has been pushing his U.S. attorneys to bring federal charges in protest-related violence whenever they can, keeping a grip on cases even if a defendant could be tried instead in state court. Federal convictions often result in longer prison sentences; sedition alone could lead to up to 20 years behind bars.

The memo cited as a hypothetical example “a group has conspired to take a federal courthouse or other federal property by force,” but the real thing took place in Portland, Oregon, during clashes that erupted night after night between law enforcement and demonstrators.

The report comes after Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec confirmed that the federal agency looked into whether it could bring criminal or civil rights charges against local officials due to ongoing violence in their cities.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that Barr asked federal prosecutors to explore whether Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) could be charged over her city’s police-free “autonomous zone” — known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) — which was closed down in the wake of violence and two shootings.

Durkan took to social media to responded to the Times‘ report, branding it “chilling” and the “latest abuse of power” by the Trump administration. “This is not a story about me. It’s about the how this President and his Attorney General are willing to subvert the law and use the DOJ for political purposes,” she added.

Barr has repeatedly slammed Democrats over their response to the ongoing civil unrest and riots sparks by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody.

“What makes me concerned for the country is [that] this is the first time in my memory that the leaders of one of our great two political parties, the Democratic Party, are not coming out and condemning mob violence and the attack on federal courts,” Barr told House Judiciary Committee members in July.

“Why can’t we just say: ‘Violence against federal courts has to stop?’” he added. “Could we hear something like that?”

300 people have been arrested on federal crimes since protests began over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody, according to an analysis conducted by the AP.

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Joe Biden on ‘Some Kind of Enhancement’ and Should Be Tested Before Debate

President Donald Trump believes former Vice President Joe Biden uses “some kind of enhancement” to improve his debate performances.

“He is on some kind of enhancement in my opinion,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham aired Tuesday.

Ingraham asked the president why he proposed a drug test for both candidates before the debates.

Trump said he watched Biden fail horribly in previous Democrat debates but looked much different in the final round with Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“He wasn’t Winston Churchill, but he was normal,” Trump said. “It was like an even deal. He got by it. And I said, ‘That was a different guy then the guy that was in the debates where Kamala just took him apart.’”

Trump said he would willing to take a drug test if Biden did the same: “I’ll take one. He’ll take one. We should both take a drug test.”

In an interview with the Washington Examiner’s Byron York, Trump compared the presidential debates to a “prizefight.”

“Well, it is a prizefight,” Trump said. “It’s no different from the gladiators, except we have to use our brain and our mouth. And our body to stand. I want all standing; they want to sit down.”

Trump made a similar proposal for a drug test before debating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“At the beginning of her last debate, she was all pumped up,” Trump said, but then at the end of the debate “she could barely reach her car.”


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‘Troll factory’: Facebook, Twitter suspend Russian network ahead of U.S. election – National

Facebook said Tuesday that it removed a small network of accounts and pages linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the “troll factory” that has used social media accounts to sow political discord in the U.S. since the 2016 presidential election.

Twitter also suspended five related accounts. The company said the tweets from these Russia-linked accounts“were low quality and spammy” and that most received few, if any, likes or retweets.

The people behind the accounts recruited “unwitting” freelance journalists to post in English and Arabic, mainly targeting left-leaning audiences. Facebook said Tuesday the network’s activity focused on the U.S., U.K., Algeria and Egypt and other English-speaking countries and countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Read more:
Facebook threatens to cut off news to Australia after years of spreading ‘misinformation’

The company said it started investigating the network based on information from the FBI about its off-Facebook activities. The network was in the early stages of development, Facebook added, and saw “nearly no engagement” on Facebook before it was removed. The network consisted of 13 Facebook accounts and two pages. About 14,000 accounts followed one or more of the pages, though the English-language page had a little over 200 followers, Facebook said.

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Still, its presence points to ongoing Russian efforts to disrupt the U.S. election and sow political discord in an already divided country. To evade detection, the people behind the network recruited Americans to do their bidding, likely unknowingly, both as journalists and as people authorized to purchase political advertisements in the U.S.

Facebook said the people behind the network posted about global events ranging from racial justice in the U.S. and the U.K., NATO, the QAnon conspiracy, President Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. The network spent about $480 on advertising on Facebook, primarily in U.S. dollars. However, Facebook said less than $2 worth of those ads targeted the U.S.

The network’s posts directed people to a website called PeaceData, which claims to be a global news organization that, according to a report by research firm Graphika, “took a left-wing stance, opposing what it portrayed as Western imperialism and the excesses of capitalism.”

‘Anarchists, rioters’ on plane: Trump echoes months-old Facebook conspiracy theory

‘Anarchists, rioters’ on plane: Trump echoes months-old Facebook conspiracy theory

The FBI said in a statement Tuesday that it provided information to the platforms “to better protect against threats to the nation’s security and our democratic processes.”

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“While technology companies independently make decisions regarding the content of their platforms and the safety of their members, the FBI is actively engaged with our federal partners, election officials, and the private sector to mitigate foreign threats to our nation’s security and our elections,” the statement said.

Separately, Twitter said Tuesday it will start adding context to its trending section, which shows some of the most popular topics on the service at any given moment. Experts and even Twitter’s own employees have expressed concerns that the trending section can be gamed to spread misinformation and abuse.

Read more:
Facebook erred by failing to remove post calling for armed civilians: Zuckerberg

Twitter uses algorithms and human employees to determine what topics are trending _ it is not simply the most popular topics, but topics that are newly popular at any given time. But it’s not difficult to artificially elevate trends.

In the coming weeks, Twitter said, users in the U.S., U.K., Brazil, India and several other countries will see brief descriptions added to some trends to add context.

“To be clear, we know there is more work to do to improve trends and the context updates we’re announcing today are just a small step in the right direction,” said Liz Lee, a product trust partner and Frank Oppong, a product manager, in a blog post. “We need to make trends better and we will.”

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Associated Press Writer Eric Tucker contributed to this story from Washington, D.C.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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UN General Assembly president welcomes Azerbaijan’s initiative to hold session on COVID-19

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Sept.1


President of the UN General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad Bande expressed gratitude to Azerbaijan for the initiative to hold a special session on cooperation between countries in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, Trend reports referring to TASS News Agency.

“The proposal to hold a special session on the pandemic by the General Assembly is a veritable platform to mobilize global efforts against the pandemic,” Bande said at a special meeting on the session’s organization.

“We thank Azerbaijan, as Chair of Non-Aligned Movement, for pushing for this important session,” he stressed.

The assembly’s president clarified that the session co-organizers have already produced the document draft which can be accepted at the end of the session.

“We trust that the special session will ensure greater involvement of world leaders toward a result-oriented response to the pandemic,” he added.

“This will further strengthen the General Assembly as a global partner in the fight against the pandemic and its impact on people’s livelihood,” Bande concluded.

The UN General Assembly’s special session on the fight against the pandemic officially opened on July 10, but it took the countries time to agree on aspects of its conduct in conditions of remote work.

Earlier, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry expressed its confidence that the special session will contribute to strengthening the solidarity of states in the fight against the pandemic, and reinforce international cooperation in finding an answer to this global threat.

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Staying off school would cause more damage to children than Covid-19 itself, English Chief Medical Officer warns – Channel 4 News

It’s all a balance of risks.

The long term risks to children if they miss even more time at school – versus the risks of re-opening classrooms again – and the huge challenge faced by teachers and parents in trying to keep them safe.

A new study by Public Health England has suggested the chances of transmission within schools is low – but teaching unions want the Government to come up with a Plan B if there’s another wave of infections.


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UK coronavirus live: Matt Hancock defends appointment of Dido Harding to lead new health body | UK news

The most obvious next priority is to secure the right and best future for all those other responsibilities of PHE that are not about health protection and I can assure everyone that there will be more on this to follow soon.

It has been the honour and privilege of my career over 41 years to lead PHE and I want to convey my heartfelt thanks to my colleagues for the remarkable contribution each has made to protecting and improving the public’s health over our eight years together.

I have been immensely proud of what we do under intense public and political scrutiny, always with professionalism and dignity and with the values that matter the most: decency, kindness and respect.

I wish Baroness Harding as the chair of this new organisation and the transition every success, and I know everyone will be delighted to hear that Michael Brodie will be returning as the interim chief executive officer to PHE, from tomorrow pending the appointment of a new leadership team.

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Would You Use the Same Language to Describe a Man?

Former Obama White House advisor Valerie Jarrett on Sunday sounded off on the criticisms of presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s vice president pick, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).

MSNBC “Kasie DC” host Kasie Hunt asked Jarrett about a recent New York Times column, entitled, “The Undertold, Undersold Story of Kamala Harris,” which asks the question: “As a prosecutor, she can make you tremble. But as a trailblazer, can she make you cry?”

Jarrett expressed disappointment with the column and asked if the same language would be used to “describe a man.”

“When are we gonna say, ‘Well, are the men going to make us cry?’” Jarrett asked.

“I think the question we put is this: Would you ask the same thing of a man? Would you use the same language, in the same way, to describe a man?” she continued. “This whole issue about whether women are mean or nasty or ambitious. What’s wrong with ambition? Who, in their right mind, wants to be President or Vice President of the United States, who isn’t ambitious? This is a teaching moment, not just for the media, but I think for America to say women are going to be moving to positions of power, and you better get used to it. And you better treat us equally. Level playing field.”

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent

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White House officials signal coronavirus relief negotiations will cease if an agreement is not reached by Friday

White House officials told Senate Republicans on Wednesday that if a deal is not reached with Democrats on coronavirus relief by Friday, negotiations will likely stop.

“I think at this point we’re either going to get serious about negotiating and get an agreement in principle,” Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters Wednesday. “I’ve become extremely doubtful that we’ll be able to make a deal if it goes well beyond Friday.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer snapped back at Meadows’ remark, following another day of negotiations between the parties, saying that Democrats would not be the ones to leave negotiations.

“We are not walking away,” Schumer said. “We will stay here as long as it takes to get an agreement and we urge Mr. Meadows to sit down and continue to work with us and to do it as long as it takes.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tried to walked back the deadline set by Meadows as he departed the Capitol following negotiations on Wednesday adding that he does not “want to describe this an an end of the week deadline,” but Meadows held firm.

He said Friday is not necessarily a “drop date” but then added, “my optimism continues to diminish the closer we get to Friday and certainly falls off the cliff exponentially after Friday.”

Meadows continued to hold out the possibility of executive actions by President Donald Trump on student loans, unemployment insurance and evictions but declined to say what the timeline for action would be.

“We’ve got those proposals before him and he’ll make decisions on those in the coming days,” Meadows said.

At a White House press conference Wednesday, Trump also highlighted some of those possibilities.

“My administration is exploring executive actions to provide protections against eviction,” he said. “As well as additional relief to those who are unemployed as a result of the virus. Very importantly, I am also looking at a term-limited suspension of the payroll tax.”

He also complained about an effort by Democrats to help state and local governments.

“The Democrats are primarily interested in a $1 trillion bailout of the poorly run states,” Trump said. “We have some states and cities — you know them all — we don’t have to go through names, but they’ve been very poorly run over the years, and we can’t go along with the bailout money. We’re not going to go along with that, especially since it’s not COVID related.”

Entering negotiations on Wednesday, Schumer was asked about the possibility of a deal being reached by Friday and said that there are still divides between the parties.

“Well, we’re working very hard but we got a lot of issues,” Schumer said. “We see the problem as bigger, bolder and requiring more action than they do.”

Multiple senators leaving the GOP conference policy lunch Wednesday said that Meadows had conveyed that Friday was a firm stopping point.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said that the negotiators relayed a similar message to the full GOP conference during their policy lunch.

“If there is not a deal by Friday, there won’t be a deal,” Blunt said. “At some point you have to set a deadline or just continue this Kabuki dance every day and nobody wants to.”

This follows Tuesday’s announcement that the negotiators had agreed to reach an agreement, if one is possible, by Friday.

But that seems to be about where agreement between Meadows, Mnuchin, Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stops.

Senators who met with administration officials said the negotiations on Wednesday seemed almost identical to days prior.

“I still basically heard the same thing,” Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., said. “There’s a wide gulf between White House negotiators and Democrats.”

The Senate is approaching what would be the start of its August recess at the end of the week.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that the Senate will delay its recess and remain in session next week, though it is not clear what sort of action would take place during that time if negotiations on a package break down.

As tensions begin to boil over, Republicans are expected to begin offering piecemeal portions of their coronavirus relief proposal, the HEALS act, on the Senate floor.

Up first will likely be an effort to extend the paycheck protection program, whose application window closes at the end of the week.

Republicans have already attempted an extension of the unemployment benefits on the Senate floor — an effort which was quashed by Democrats.

Democrats have flatly rejected the idea of a piecemeal series of bills. They’ve argued that a “big,” “bold” and “comprehensive” bill is necessary to combat the ongoing health and economic crisis.

The Democratic proposal, which has already passed the House of Representatives, costs nearly $3 trillion. The Republican proposal is around $1 trillion.

ABC News’ Libby Cathey contributed to this report.

What to know about the coronavirus:

  • How it started and how to protect yourself: Coronavirus explained
  • What to do if you have symptoms: Coronavirus symptoms
  • Tracking the spread in the U.S. and worldwide: Coronavirus map
  • Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.

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    Portland Protesters Burn Bibles, American Flags in the Streets

    Protesters flocked to the Justice Center and the federal courthouse in Portland again on Friday night, lighting fires and burning American flags and Bibles in the streets.

    According to the Portland Police, which did not engage with demonstrators, the crowd lit several fires, including a large bonfire in the middle of the street in front of the federal courthouse. One video shows protesters feeding a small fire with Bibles, which were engulfed in flames:

    Other videos show American flags consumed by fire:

    Portland Police did not engage with the demonstrators but did respond to a nearby shooting, where over 150 rounds were shot. One round struck a woman, per the Portland Police Bureau:

    One round struck an adult female victim in an arm. Responding officers applied a tourniquet and she was transported to the hospital by ambulance with what are believed to be non-life threatening injuries. No other injuries have been reported to police, however bullets struck at least 8 occupied apartments and 7 vehicles (unknown if occupied).

    According to journalist Andy Ngo, who has firsthand experience with Anftia rioters, there has been “a large uptick in shootings & homicides in Portland since @tedwheeler abolished the Gun Violence Reduction Team”:

    The violent chaos has continued in Portland for well over 60 days. Early Friday morning, Portland protesters dumped a pig’s severed head on an American flag, put a cop hat on it, and set it ablaze:

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    Team GB sprinter considers stop and search legal action, as scenes of ‘driving while black’ spread across social media – Channel 4 News

    The Metropolitan Police have urged the Team GB sprinter Bianca Williams and her partner to get in touch – and discuss an incident where they were stopped and searched while driving in west London.

    The couple claim they were racially profiled – and while the police say each stop is made on its own merits, they are confident there were no misconduct issues but want to consider what they could have done differently.

    This programme has also learnt that the Met have made a voluntary referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct – following a separate complaint by a 21-year-old key worker accusing the same unit of racial profiling.

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